The Seattle-based Boeing Corporation has told union reps that it won’t supply gay and lesbian employees with pension survivor benefits, despite the recent passage of marriage equality in Washington State.
Ray Goforth, director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), says he’s long tried to get the aerospace giant to extend benefits to same-sex partners of gay employees. But with the passage of Referendum 74 on Election Day, SPEEA was able to put some weight behind its demand.
Boeing didn’t bite.
“Their answer was that they had no intention of granting pension survivor benefits to legally married same-sex couples because they didn’t have to,” Goforth told the Stranger.
Pension laws are governed by federal law, and with DOMA still in effect, that supersedes any state regulations. “We were profoundly disappointed to see that they would use a loophole to engage in institutionalized discrimination,” lamented Goforth.
Rumors of an imminent strike have surfaced, which could affect the nation’s economy: Every month Boeing builds more than 50 jets, worth an estimated $8 billion a pop.
In a statement to employees on Monday, Boeing claimed it “is taking a closer look at how R-74 might impact company policies once it takes effect in December” but Goforth says the company didn’t mince words during negotiations. “They were quite firm—that they weren’t required to honor Washington State state law on this matter [and] they said they weren’t going to.”